by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
At 8:46 a.m. on Thursday, President Trump issued his wildly irresponsible tweet suggesting the November election be delayed — yet another reminder that Trump is contributing to the breakdown of America’s democratic institutions just when it needs them the most.
Then, only two hours later, we got a reminder of where Trump might have gotten the idea that our democratic institutions don’t deserve respect: from his wildly irresponsible predecessor.
During his eulogy at the funeral of the civil-rights hero John Lewis, Obama called for a degree of norm-shattering in service of the partisan interests of the Democrats that will, quite simply, tear this country asunder.
The 44th president took an odd turn into policy, insisting that changes be made so that “every American citizen has equal representation in our government, including the American citizens who live in Washington, DC, and in Puerto Rico.” Obama was effectively calling for the grant of statehood to these two US territories.
Now, he knows that statehood can only be granted by a vote of both houses of Congress, after which the law must be signed by the president. And under the rules that currently govern the Senate, this would never happen. (Put aside for a moment that the 23rd Amendment likely renders any effort to grant DC statehood unconstitutional.)
Why? As a practical political matter, DC is a Democratic stronghold, and it’s almost certain Puerto Rico would be, too, if it became a state. In other words, what Obama is championing here would lead to the immediate addition of four Democratic senators — effectively securing his party’s control of the upper chamber for a very long time.
He made a practical political proposal — during a eulogy! — to help achieve his goal.